In 1869, two men were digging a well on the farm of William Newell in Cardiff, New York when they discovered the body of a ten-foot-tall man buried in the earth. Unfortunately, the famed Cardiff Giant was actually just a statue that Newell's cousin had buried in a hoax meant to provoke discussions around religion while bringing in a ton of cash from people who desperately wanted to believe that biblical stories of giant humans were true, or were simply jonesing for a dose of wonder. From Smithsonian:
Hull was an atheist, a controversial stance for that time in American history, and “though he lacked any formal education, greatly admired science.” He wasn’t wealthy, either, and his plan for the Cardiff giant included both striking it rich and proving a point about the relationship between science and faith.
The giant was sold to a group of businessmen and went on tour. Eventually, its popularity attracted the attention of the age’s greatest huckster, P.T. Barnum. After the businessmen wouldn’t sell him their stony cash cow, Barnum created a replica and began showing it as the real thing. The owners of the authentic “giant” tried to sue Barnum, but according to Rose, the judge hearing the case just said “Bring your giant here, and if he swears to his own genuineness as a bona fide petrification, you shall have the injunction you ask for.” In other words: You can’t really have a fake of a fake.
"The Cardiff Giant Was Just a Big Hoax"
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